When the bubble burst in the year 2000, Tanya Van Court lost over $1 million in stock and options over the course of a few minutes. Then and there she vowed to never let something like that happen to her children.
Five years later, her daughter Gabrielle was born. At the time, she was a VP of Digital Product Dev at ESPN. She then went on to work as SVP of Digital Products, Parenting & Preschool for Nickelodeon and, in 2013, moved to SVP of Marketing at Discovery Education, leading the charge to roll out digital textbooks nationwide.
Today, she runs Goalsetter, an app that allows parents and their kids to replace gift-giving with goal-giving.
It started when her daughter Gabrielle was eight years old. Van Court told her daughter that if she could save $100, Van Court would match that $100 and start her an investment account. After learning how exactly an investment account works, Gabrielle decided all she wanted for her ninth birthday was a bike and an investment account.
“I thought that these are amazing things for a nine-year-old to want, but she was going to get all kinds of stuff she didn’t want or need instead,” said Van Court. “I realized how early consumerism starts. We all have more and more and more and value things less and less and less.”
After conversations with fellow moms, Van Court got to work on Goalsetter. The app has two main branches: a savings account for kids and a financial literacy learning center with fun quizzes.
Kids and parents together sign up for the app, where kids input some of their goals, from college tuition to a new bike or gaming console. Kids can then earn their allowance through the app, and can also receive ‘GoalCards’ (replacing a gift card) from parents and relatives to save towards their goals.
Moreover, parents can round-up their debit card swipes to go towards their kids bigger goals, such as college tuition or a first car. Parents can also set up auto-save to set aside a few dollars each month.
“Moms in particular all feel the pain of their kids having too much stuff,” said Van Court. “When they step on yet another lego in the house or go into the kids room to find 80 toys, only five of which they play with, these become daily pain points for moms. The idea of teaching kids how to save instead of teaching them how to acquire more stuff really resonates with moms.”
Goalsetter also offers a financial literacy quiz game called “It’s LIT” that is mapped to financial literacy standards for K – 12. The game uses pop culture memes, song lyrics, etc. to engage kids while teaching them the fundamentals of personal finance. Parents can choose to reward their kids with money toward their goals for each question they get right.
What’s more, Goalsetter has plans to launch “It’s LIT” as a curriculum to school districts, complete with lesson plan materials, quizzes and more.
Alongside the curriculum, Goalsetter makes money by charging a dollar for every GoalCard sent through the platform. Goalsetter donates 5 percent of its transaction fee to children’s related charities. The company also has a donation function that allows users to pay the company whatever amount they find appropriate for the features offered.
Goalsetter currently has more than 20,000 users and was recently featured on Shark Tank — Van Court turned down Mr. Wonderful’s investment offer.
The company graduated from the Entrepreneurs’ Roundtable Accelerator in 2017 and has raised a total of $2.1 million, including investment from Morgan Stanley, CFSI sponsored by JP Morgan Chase, Pipeline Angels and Backstage Capital.
“When the bubble burst, I had to learn the hard way that what goes up can actually come down,” said Van Court. “Our mission is to teach children that money has real value that can go towards the things you want to accomplish in life, and to people who are in need of it.”
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